Sign Up To Get Interesting Blog/News and Updates Delivered To Your Inbox     Sign Up today!

PART 4: Terrified of the Sand?  3 Things That Make it Impossible to Get Out

More than a few of my friends simply cannot get out of the sand.  The possibility of finishing or getting a good score on a hole is simply over when their ball goes into a greenside bunker.  A bad shot can either be a thin, bladed shot or a shot that’s left in the sand for yet another go around.  I see some people who just go in and take the ball out, perhaps after giving it a reluctant obligatory whack, and drop it into the grass (and some just toss it onto the green).

It’s a miserable feeling watching your ball head for a greenside bunker when you fear them.  But you are hardly alone in your experience.  The average women golfer has handicap of about 29. Analysis of hundreds thousands of amateur rounds by reveals that 50 percent of average women golfers miss the green with their next shot.  That’s right.  Less than half the time does their first attempt from a greenside bunker end up on the putting surface.

Dave Pelz, the short game guru, writes that the bunker shot “is the one most dreaded by the average golfer.” My coach Mario Bevilacqua, agrees and explains that you must do several things differently to get the ball out.  And he adds, getting out on your first attempt should be your goal.  Forget getting it close to the hole, he says — begin by setting your goal to get your ball out and onto the green on your first try.

The three keys to achieving this goal, as shown in the pictures Mario recently took of me, involve your set-up, backswing and follow-through.  For each of the three parts we show do’s and don’ts.  I hope you find this helpful.



  • Ball is in the middle or back in your stance
  • Face of the club is square to your target
  • Posture is too upright (standing too tall) and narrow stance
  • Not enough bend forward and knee flex
  • Tilting backward


What you should do:

  • Make sure ball is forward in your stance; should be off your front foot or just inside the heel of your front foot
  • Make sure your club face is open at address – about 20-30 degrees will suffice
  • Dig (wedge) your feet into the sand; bend at knees and widen stance
  • Weight should be forward (you should feel you have about 60 percent of your weight on your front foot, especially when you wedge your foot into sand)



  • When you take your club back, your weight weight falls backwards onto your back foot instead of staying forward
  • Shaft is taken back too flat and around your body rather than more upright as needed for this shot
  • Face is in the same position as when you hit a normal shot meaning you did not open it at address so you don’t have enough loft (face too closed)

What you should do:

  • Weight forward
  • Shaft upright and taken back more vertically (yes, this will feel “up and down”)
  • Face is open with bounce exposed
  • Keep knees flexed

Follow through


  • Weight falls backwards
  • Knees straighten up
  • Club face closes which reduces loft which makes it harder to get ball up, and causes the club to dig into sand rather than slide through it.  The common result is those skulled/bladed shots or a fat shot that goes a few feet

What you should do:

  • Keep knees bent (stay down over your shot) and weight forward club enters sand
  • This ensures the club comes down vertically and not from back behind you, as it would on a normal shot.  If you keep the face open through the strike, it preserves the face’s loft and allows the club to pass thru the sand without any interruption.  Result is higher softer bunker shots.

Don’t be timid.  However hard you would hit the ball out of the grass to get it where you want, you will need to hit it three times as hard out of the sand to get the same distance, says Jack Nicklaus.

If you find yourself digging my blog, please feel free to forward it to a friend who might also enjoy it.

As always, I would love to hear from you — feel free to shoot me an email to with any questions, comments or suggestions for future posts.


So I’ve received numerous emails and personal comments about this post and how we all struggle with the sand.  I only have one thing to add if the above becomes too complex, if you do nothing else in the sand, and I mean nothing else, keep that ball forward off your front foot and make sure your weight is loaded on that front leg.  I hope this is helpful!!

Spread the love